Fun Food Festivals from around the World!

Food festivals provide a delightful and flavourful glimpse into the culinary heritage of a region, often accentuating what makes that area unique. Stumbling upon a bustling festival where locals revel in their culinary traditions can swiftly become the pinnacle of any traveler’s journey.

Certain festivals worldwide have attained iconic status, attracting enthusiasts and the food-curious alike from far and wide. If you’re seeking inspiration for your next vacation centered around gastronomic delights, perhaps this post will tempt your travelling taste-buds.  Bon Appétit!

Food Festival in Sapporo, Japan
Food Festival in Sapporo, Japan

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La Tomatina - Buñol, Spain

One of the most famous food festivals in the world, La Tomatina isn’t so much an eating and drinking celebration of the tasty tomato, but more of a huge food fight instead.  It is held annually in the small town of Buñol in Spain (near Valencia), on the last Wednesday of August each year.

Thousands of people from all over the world descend on the tiny town of Buñol, where for one hour, they squish and hurl over-ripe tomatoes at one another.  The festival originated in 1945, when a food fight broke out during a parade, and it has been going ever since. 

Today, tomatoes are trucked in by the lorry load.  The festival kicks-off at midday, and the tomato throwing is only permitted to go for one hour.  There are a few other rules participants need to follow (such as squishing the tomato before throwing it, wearing old clothes that can be thrown away afterwards, etc.).  Previously, there was no upper cap on the number of people who could attend the festival.  But due to its massive popularity, in 2013 the festival became a ticketed event, with a capacity of 20,000 people.  For those who wish to attend the festival, it is recommended to join a tour company that offers packages that include accommodation and tickets, such as La Tomatina Tours.  And book early, the festival is massively popular.

La Tomatina Festival
La Tomatina Festival

Photo by MikeJamieson(1950), used under Creative Commons licence.

Wild Food Festival - Hokitika, New Zealand

If you are the sort of foodie looking for new (and unusual) food experiences, then the Hokitika Wild Food Festival may just be for you.  It is held in early March on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and has been running since 1990.

Whilst you can experience some typical West Coast ‘wild’ food (such as whitebait fritters or wild blackberry waffles), some of the crazier dishes on the menu can include Huhu Grubs (the larvae of a large New Zealand beetle, described as nutty and meaty in flavour), ‘Mountain Oysters‘ (also known as lamb’s testicles), Fish Eye Jelly Shots, and Horse Semen, to name just a few.  And you can wash it all down with a wine or beer (you will probably want to…).

In addition to the food side of the festival, there is also a Feral Fashion competition (a wearable arts style competition modelled on the racing circuits Fashion in the Field best-dressed competition), and live music.  So if your tastebuds are craving a new and crazy taste sensation, this festival may just be for you!

Wild Foods festival in Hokitika
Wild Foods festival in Hokitika

Photo by Eli Duke, used under Creative Commons licence.

American Royal World Series of Barbecue - Kansas City, USA

For lovers of all things slow-cooked and smoky, then a trip to the American Royal World Series of Barbecue® in Kansas City is a must.  It is the largest barbecue contest in the world, with over 500 teams usually competing, and is a fundraiser for American Royal, a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to be the nation’s leader for food and agriculture education, events, and engagement.  The first American Royal BBQ contests was held in 1980, and is usually held around October each year over three days.

Different cultures around the world all have their own interpretations of barbecue.  From Asado in Argentina, to a Korean Barbecue, to a Shisa Nyama in South Africa, each country has their different styles.  The term Barbecue actually originates from Barbacoa, a style of cooking from the indigenous Taino people of the Caribbean.  In the USA, whilst each state has their own regional style, barbecue usually involves slow-cooking, wood-fire smoke, dry rubs and bbq sauces. 

There are two main bbq events at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue®.  The Invitational, where contestants are invited after their team has won a Grand Championship from another qualifying contest.  And the Open BBQ competition, where any team can join – no invite needed.  In order to compete for Grand Champion in the Open, teams must submit dishes in four categories – Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork (Shoulder or Boston Butt) and Beef Brisket.  If you wish, for a small donation, you can become a judge in the Open Competition – sign up here.  Or you can simply enjoy the atmosphere and pit parties, have a boogie to the live music and sample as much mouth-watering meaty goodness as you can.

American BBQ
American BBQ

Photo by Lauren Topor, used under Creative Commons licence.

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival - Galway, Ireland

If you happen to be exploring the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland and end up in Galway on the last weekend in September, then you are in luck, as the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival will be in full swing.  Known as the world’s oldest oyster festival, first held in 1954, today’s festival draws thousands of spectators to witness the World Oyster Opening Championship, and to feast on the famous native Galway Oysters.

Over three days, there is live music, street parades, cooking demos and seafood trails around the city of Galway.  On the Friday night, Irish hopefuls from across Ireland compete in the Irish Oyster Opening Cup, to see which local can shuck the most oysters and win a chance to compete in the World Oyster Opening Championship the next day.  There, they will be up against competitors from all over the world, to see who will be crowned World Champion Shucker!

So if you feel like sampling some of Ireland’s best seafood and Galway’s famous oysters, or if you just want to join in the craic, make sure you are in Galway on the last weekend in September!

Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival
Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival

Photo by Annie and Andrew, used under Creative Commons licence.

Oktoberfest - Munich, Germany

The world’s most renowned beer festival has to be Oktoberfest in Munich.  This celebration of beer, food, festival rides and Bavarian culture takes place annually, from the end of September to the first weekend in October, and visitors from around the globe flock to Munich each year to partake in the festivities.

Whilst the festival is mainly known for their beer tents serving traditional German lager, foodies can also experience a wide range of Bavarian cuisine, from pork roasts with a side of sauerkraut, half a roast chicken with potato dumplings, fish on a stick, hearty pretzels and savoury sausages, to name just a few dishes.  Vegetarians and vegans are also catered for – hearty pumpkin soup, Schupfnudel (a type of potato dumpling), Obatzda (Bavarian cheese spread), and cheese spaetzle (a German version of Mac and Cheese), are all popular dishes for those wanting some meat-free options.

Remember, if you find yourself in Munich during Oktoberfest and want to join in the fun, it is recommended to reserve a spot in one of the beer tents during the busier times (the evenings and on weekends).  You may also want to try out a few of the fast-paced fairground attractions before settling in for a large meal and a few steins of beer (just to avoid an upset stomach on those amusement rides).

Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich

Photo by chsyang, used under Creative Commons licence.

Pizza Village - Naples, Italy

Formerly known as Pizzafest, the Napoli Pizza Village is usually held in June each each year, and is the largest food festival in Italy.  It attracts pizza lovers from around the world who come to feast on delicious Neapolitan pizza.  Originally founded in the mid 1980’s, the festival had many guises before it became the Napoli Pizza Village in 2011.

Held along the picturesque Lungomare Caracciolo on the Naples waterfront, festival goers can watch pizza-making demonstrations, watch concerts, and feast on delicious pizza.  The highlight of the festival is the World Pizza Chef Championship, where pizza chefs from around the world compete to win the ultimate accolade best Pizzaiolo (a chef who specialises in making pizzas and who has been trained to make real, Italian-style pizzas).

So if you have a hankering to try some of the world’s best Neapolitan pizza, head to Naples in June.  Buon appetito!


Photo by Violet Faversham, used under Creative Commons licence.

Salon Du Chocolat - Worldwide

The Salon du Chocolat is the world’s biggest showcase of all things chocolate.  The first event was held in 1995, and since then, it has been held more than 247 times in different cities around the world.  There are fifteen shows held each year.

Over five days all the key players of the chocolate industry come together – chocolatiers, pastry chefs, confectioners, cocoa producers, major brands, food bloggers, and more.  There are live chef demos, chocolate sculptures and exhibitions, chocolate and pâtisserie competitions for both amateurs and professionals, and even a spectacular chocolate fashion show, featuring breathtaking designs made from chocolate.  Or you can just wander the many booths and sample amazing chocolates from around the globe.

A visit to the Salon du Chocolat is the Mecca for all serious chocoholics, a pilgrimage into the heart of chocolate nirvana where every indulgence is meticulously crafted and passionately celebrated.  Whether you’re a connoisseur seeking the finest cacao bean origins or a curious enthusiast eager to explore innovative chocolate pairings, the Salon du Chocolat promises to ignite your passion for all things chocolate.

Salon du Chocolat fashion show
Salon du Chocolat fashion show

Photo by Geraldine Poisson, used under Creative Commons licence.